We love wool, and this week is Choose Wool Week, so we thought we’d get involved by doing a series of little interviews featuring some of our favourite New Zealanders working with wool.
Wool is a renewable and biodegradable fibre source, it’s beautiful, warm, versatile, natural, local and just plain lovely…
Marta Buda agrees:
How does wool feature in your work?
Wool features heavily in my woven work – for my wall hangings I use it to create textures, volume and shapes within a composition. I also use it in my woven cushions – in the warp and weft to create handmade fabric that is then hand-sewn into a cushion cover. I also use carded wool fleece for felting, which I’m doing for a personal side project which is coming along very slowly…
What is it about wool you love?
I love that it’s a natural fibre and a renewable resource. That the whole process of shearing a sheep, cleaning the wool, carding the wool, spinning the wool etc can be hand done with little or no energy source (apart from physical labour), in the same way it has been done all over the world for centuries. I also love that there are so many different types of sheep that grow different types of wool with special and unique properties, this is something that intrigues me so much and I hope to learn more about. I personally feel that a handmade woollen jersey is like an heirloom, something that should be treasured, held on to and valued. It is also far superior at keeping us warm than any manmade fibre and much less toxic for people and the environment.
Can you remember the first woollen item you made?
It might have been a felted wool gnome doorstop I made when I was 12! From more recent memories however I think I first used it as a material in a first year paper when I was at university. The project was about making an object that responded to a specific site. I bought old woollen jumpers from an opshop and then felted them in the washing machine using a hot cycle. I then made this little elf hat with embroidered commercial felt bits on it (I think I got an A+ for it too!).
What was the most recent woollen item you made?
The most recent woollen items I made would be a series of weavings that have cotton, linen and woollen yarns in them. This was for an exhibition at Bath St Gallery in Parnell, Auckland. The exhibition was titled ‘Comfortable’. I interpreted this in four weavings that suggested boundaries and framed spaces, I wanted to show areas of comfort and discomfort to reflect the personal or internal struggles we have with the mental state of ‘comfortable’.
Is there anyone using wool you particularly admire?
My most favourite current textile artist would be Ashley Helvey, she’s not a New Zealander but really worth looking up. I’m not sure if she’s still making these days, as I think she does a lot of styling work, but you can still find images of her wool felted work online. She has a great sense of materials and I love that she works with traditional techniques in a contemporary way. The woven work of Mimi Jung from Brook & Lyn is also hugely impressive, she has a very refined and subtle aesthetic that is beautiful. Locally I always love Penny Sage knits. I feel like Kate Megaw the designer has such a unique and fresh perspective on knitwear, and it is all made by a small family-run knitting factory here in New Zealand too. I am also really pleased to see that people are embracing handmade craftsmanship – the beautiful Godmother blankets made using a naturally grey wool grown in New Zealand called Stansborough are a nice ode to traditional weaving.